2001 Hyundai Sonata Reviews and Ratings

Sedan 4D (4 Cyl)

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2001 Hyundai Sonata
Ron Moorhead

Can a Hyundai turn heads? Well, the current-generation Sonata certainly turned ours. Neatly handsome, with crisply tailored proportions, Sonata looks solid and expensive. It sounds that way too when you close the doors, or when you fire up the top model's smooth V6 engine.

Sonata offers the safety, comfort, and performance of other mid-size cars costing $5,000 more. That's value that's hard to beat.

And, oh yes, here's one more head-turner. Check out Hyundai's warranty: Called Hyundai Advantage, it extends basic protection to five years or 60,000 miles and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. Sonata's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is among the longest available. Model Lineup
Sonata prices start at $14,999 for the base-level version, which is powered by a 2.4-liter inline-4 producing 149 horsepower and 156 pounds-feet of torque. Even at this level Sonata's list of standard equipment is impressively comprehensive, and includes air conditioning, dual front and side-impact air bags, speed-sensitive power steering, cruise control and AM/FM/Cassette stereo.

Next up is the GLS, at $16,999, which is powered by an all-aluminum 2.5-liter V6, with 170 horsepower and 166 pounds-feet of torque. GLS also upgrades the rear drum brakes to disc brakes. Of course, GLS also includes some additional trim and amenities.

New for 2001 is the GLS Leather, which Hyundai bills as a separate model, priced at $18,324. In addition to leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, this model also adds a power driver's seat and an upgraded stereo with both cassette and CD capability.

All three Sonata models offer a choice of standard five-speed manual transmission or electronically controlled four-speed automatic ($500). Add a tilt-and-slide moonroof, traction control, and ABS to the GLS Leather, and your new Sonata barely cracks the $20,000 barrier. Walkaround
With its sloping hood, pronounced grille and large greenhouse, the Sonata doesn't fit the typical mid-size sedan mold, and in our view that's a bonus. The Sonata's styling may not make you weak in the knees, but it certainly sets the car apart from the crowd.
Given its attractive price, the Sonata's cabin is surprisingly well finished. The leather upholstery gets high marks, and the dash, instrument panel and door panels are nicely trimmed and precisely fit. Each interior scheme has a different simulated wood trim. Our GLS had a gray wood tone that grew on us with time.

It's easy to get comfortable behind the Sonata's wheel. The front bucket seats are supportive but not overly constrictive, making them quite comfortable even during long trips. There is plenty of legroom in the rear seat. The tallest of our testers had no problem sitting behind the driver's seat.

Safety equipment includes side-impact airbags for the front passengers, and Hyundai's Passenger Presence Detection system, which automatically disables the front passenger airbags if a child is poorly positioned or too small in stature (under 66 pounds) for safe deployment. That's a feature usually reserved for expensive luxury sedans. Seatbelt pretensioners are also standard.

We have only a few things to gripe about inside. The instruments and control labels are easy to read during daylight, but as the sun fades away and the lights come on, they get more difficult to see. And the cupholders in the center console are too shallow to hold anything larger then a small cup of coffee. Driving Impressions
Seat time in the Sonata proves what the walkaround suggests: This Hyundai is far better equipped than its predecessors to compete with more established brands from Japan, the United States and Europe.

Increased structural rigidity has given Hyundai engineers a solid platform for developing the suspension. The suspension itself is reasonably sophisticated, with double wishbones in front and a multilink arrangement in the rear; shock absorbers are gas-filled all around and there are stabilizer bars at both ends. The result is a chassis that is both compliant and responsive.

Our test ranged from wet conditions to dry, from 70-plus-mph Interstates to two-lane country roads. The Sonata soaked up the expansion joints and undulations as well as some larger, more expensive luxury sedans. Its ride is supple yet controlled, and it turns into corners well. We wouldn't compare its road-holding capabilities to a sport coupe, but the Sonata is up to whatever a family sedan owner is likely to dish out. And it's never boring to drive.

The drivetrain is as pleasantly surprising as the suspension. Considering the engine's small displacement and the car's price, the 2.5-liter V6 is both smooth and powerful. The manual transmission delivers the best acceleration, but the automatic doesn't give up much. It shifts up smoothly and shifts down reasonably quickly when the driver jabs the gas pedal. Steep grades and passes on two-lane roads are no sweat.

The Sonata's brakes are adequate, not remarkable. We'd prefer to see optional ABS on the standard feature list, but given Sonata's value pricing, it's not too egregious an oversight. Hyundai expects that most of the Sonatas that roll from its dealerships will have most of the options. Summary
If a manufacturer is committed to building consumer confidence in its products, its starts by improving quality and backing it up with a good warranty. That's what Hyundai has done with the Sonata.

Yet quality and confidence don't mean much if the product falls short in other respects. The Sonata brings stand-apart styling, a comfortable cabin and decent performance. It's enjoyable to drive and even easier to live with, at a price that sets it apart from other mid-size sedans.

If value is a priority, the Hyundai Sonata is absolutely worth a look.

Model as tested
GLS Leather automatic ($18,824)
Basic Warranty
5 years/60,000 miles
Assembled in
Ulsan, Korea
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested
Package 13 ($1,260) includes power tilt and slide moonroof, antilock brakes (ABS), traction control

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Sonata ($14,999); GLS ($16,999); GLS Leather ($18,324)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual front airbags, dual front side-impact air bags, front seatbelt pretensioners standard; ABS optional
Safety equipment (optional)
2.5-liter dohc 24v V6
5-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
(GLS Leather) air conditioning; power windows, door locks and mirrors; cruise control, AM/FM/cassette stereo with compact disc player, tilt steering wheel, leather upholstery and steering wheel, power driver's seat, remote release for trunk and fuel filler door, alloy wheels

Engine & Transmission
2.5-liter dohc 24v V6
Drivetrain type
front-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
170 @ 6000
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)

Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS
Suspension, front
Suspension, rear

Seating capacity
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear

Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight

J.D. Power Rating
Overall Quality Not Available
Overall Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Powertrain Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Body & Interior Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Features & Accessories Quality - Mechanical
Not Available
Overall Quality - Design
Not Available
Powertrain Quality - Design
Not Available
Body & Interior Quality - Design
Not Available
Features & Accessories Quality - Design
Not Available

Overall Dependability Not Available
Powertrain Dependability
Not Available
Body & Interior Dependability
Not Available
Feature & Accessory Dependability
Not Available

J.D. Power Rating Legend
Among the Best
5 / 5
Better than Most
4 / 5
About Average
3 / 5
The Rest
2 / 5

* The J.D. Power Ratings are calculated based on the range between the car manufacturer or car model with the highest score and the car manufacturer or car model with the lowest score. J.D. Power generates a rating of a five, four, three, or two. If there is insufficient data to calculate a rating, a dash (—) is used in its place.

J.D. Power Ratings may not include all information used to determine J.D. Power awards, visit the Car Ratings page to learn more about awards and ratings.

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